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Level 4

4AAT1021 Turning Points: An Introduction to the History of Christianity in England 1500-1900


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr David Crankshaw and Dr Michael Ledger-Lomas
Assessment: One x 2,000 word essay (40%) and one 2,500 word essay (60%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: Two-hour weekly classes over ten weeks. Most teaching sessions will include a lecture and some opportunity for discussion. Students will be encouraged to come to the sessions prepared to contribute to the discussion on the basis of their private reading of material specified in the topic bibliographies given on the module outline distributed at the beginning of the module. Such material will provide sufficient background for full participation in the sessions and for the preparation of coursework.
Pre-requisites: none

The module is an introduction to the History of Christianity in England since the 16th century. It seeks to lay a foundation for the later study of the History of Christianity by providing basic information about core theological ideas and how they relate to ecclesiastical structures, practices and personnel, while also informing students about methods of historical analysis and standards of argumentation. Although the focus is necessarily upon change, some attention is given to continuities. Debate amongst historians is brought to the forefront whenever possible.

Sample topics

  • Introduction: The Pre-Reformation Church and Popular Piety
  • The Break with Rome
  • The Creation of a Protestant Identity
  • The Rise of Arminianism
  • England’s Wars of Religion?
  • The Restoration Church
  • Toleration, Moderation and their Opponents
  • The Evangelical Revival
  • The Globalization of British Christianity
  • The Twentieth Century: Secularization and Dechristianization

Further information

Module aims

The module introduces students to a number of key events, processes and themes in the religious history of the period, such as the Henrician and Edwardian Reformations; subsequent developments in English Protestantism; the religious origins and consequences of the Civil Wars of the 17th century; toleration and moderation in the wake of the Toleration Act; the globalization of British Christianity and its consequences; the evangelical revivals of the 18th century; and the debates about secularization, dechristianisation and revival in the twentieth century.

Learning outcomes

Generic skills

  • engage critically with primary and secondary sources
  • present ideas coherently and argumentatively in written and oral form

Module specific skills

  • identify and explain the significance of the main underlying theological ideas and the main features of the structures and practices of the Church in the Early Modern/Modern periods
  • identify and explain the significance of key events, processes and themes in the History of Christianity in England in the Early Modern and Modern periods
  • discuss some of the issues involved in dealing with primary and secondary sources
  • demonstrate an understanding of how to produce and present a basic historical analysis according to the conventions of historical scholarship 
Past syllabi
Previous syllabus document available to download here for academic year 2015-16.

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.
Preliminary reading

Essential text book

  • Rosman, D., The Evolution of the English Churches 1500–2000 (2003)

Good supplementary introductory texts 

  • Doran, S. and Durston, C., Princes, Pastors and People: The Church and Religion in England, 1500–1700 (2nd edn, 2003)
  • Hylson-Smith, K., The Churches in England from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, volume 2, 1689–1833 (1997)
  • Hylson-Smith, K., The Churches in England from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, volume 3, 1833–1998 (1998)


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